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For Professionals in
Electronic / Digital Court Technology
Volume 15, Number 4 — Winter 2010
. . .
• Your Association
Sometimes, while days shorten and temperatures drop, it's a bit
hard to keep in mind that spring is just four months away —
and a new decade is a whole lot closer!
2011 will be an exciting year for our Association.
In September, Randel Raison (Texas), my predecessor as
President, and Lynn Gilstrap (Florida), our Secretary from
June of '09, concluded their Board service. We want to express
appreciation to both for volunteering their time and energy.
Even before becoming a Director in 2008, Randel was active in Association
affairs, particularly on Conference planning committees. While
President, he furthered a number of our long-term goals.
Randel owns APLST (All Professionals Litigation Support Team) in
Houston. Thank you, Randel.
Lynn, when first joining the Board, was immediately willing to accept the
Secretary's position. Lynn has been a member since early 2007,
and earned her CERT*D certification later that year. She continues
now in her position with Florida's Fifth Judicial Circuit.
Thank you, Lynn.
And we welcome to our current Board new Directors Buck Ewing
(Massachusetts) and Rick Russell (Maryland).
See their brief bios in this issue at
Board of Directors Updates.
Director Kenneth Kelemen (Delaware) is now our Secretary.
Planning for AAERT's future requires a wide cross-section of experience
which reflects our members' various perspectives. The Directors
comprise a very talented group from across the country.
The Board is moving forward on planning, on-line certification issues,
website development, and educational videos / materials for our
members. We are pleased with the work being done to update the
organization and meet members' needs.
You, too, can actively share in the Association's activities — see the
opportunities outlined in this issue at
Committees — a chance to
participate. It's encouraging to know how much expertise,
in so many arenas, exists within our ranks.
So, best wishes to all next year and next decade!
Janet Harris, CERT, CCVS
Thinking forward and into the future. That's what Association
Management Companies (AMC's) help boards accomplish, and that is what I,
as AAERT's Executive Director, have been focusing my attention on —
moving forward into 2011. We are challenging ourselves to stay
ahead of the curve by discussing our vision of the Association in three years,
in five years, and even further, and how to best guide AAERT into this
ever-evolving technological future. This is not an easy task.
Strategic planning takes time, commitment, and vision. But that is
exactly what this Board has willingly agreed to do.
Questions will arise. For instance,
"What do we, as a Board,
need to do to prepare for the future of AAERT?"
One answer: "Think outside the box."
It's an easy answer, but to rationalize and
implement are two different things. An undertaking that must be
examined is being prepared for the Millennials, the increasing numbers
from the Gen X-er's, while still identifying with the Baby Boomers.
Another question may be considered,
"How will this
Association do business differently utilizing today's technology?"
Associations will need to
boost usability, be more accessible, and provide and protect the
management of our data. We need to be mindful of our membership
dollars, and not be hasty to chase a "hot" or "new" item without first
giving it due diligence by researching that item. What are our
members using? Are they perhaps using this very item? Are
they satisfied with it, or do they feel they threw away their
hard-earned dollars chasing this latest craze? As we all know,
technology changes rapidly.
The Board's job is to govern and make changes as needed. Strategic
planning is a time-consuming task, but one that the Board takes very
seriously. They will continue with AAERT's mission, while keeping
the Association fresh and useful to you.
Happy Holidays to the entire AAERT family, and let's welcome the New Year.
Michael F. Tannen, CSEP
AAERT Executive Director
— an all-inclusive approach
A pending bill to amend Kentucky law would define "court reporting" as:
"[t]he making of a verbatim record by means of manual shorthand, machine
shorthand, closed microphone voice dictation silencer, or by
electronic recording of any testimony given under oath before, or for
submission to any court, referee, or court examiner or by any board,
commission, or other body, or in any other proceeding where a
verbatim record is required."
The bill establishes a Kentucky Board of Court Reporting, and
would include AAERT certification for digital reporters
practicing in the state.
To read the bill's text in PDF format, as it existed on
The Kentucky Court Reporters Association (KyCRA) leadership reached out
to both AAERT and the National Verbatim Reporters Association (NVRA) to
collaborate in an effort to protect the profession regardless of
AAERT is currently in discussions with KyCRA leadership as to
specific language, and is reviewing the contents of the bill, which
sets up certification and licensing requirements for all court
reporters. KyCRA contacted AAERT for comment, and we appreciate the
gesture to include us in the process.
Watch for updates in TCR as developments unfold.
KyCRA is soliciting funds and support, and you can contact them at
E-Reporting and the visually impaired
Our blind / visually impaired community is growing
But we don't seem to be nearly as aware of their presence as we are
of those with hearing impairments — (whose American Sign Language
interpreters, for example, are stationed prominently near podiums at public
meetings). Our rare exposures to public accommodations for the B/VI
are limited to audible tones at busy intersection crosswalks, or Braille
numbers in elevators.
Of course, our focus is within the legal system. And here,
E-Reporting has a unique, valuable role to play in making "the record"
accessible to the blind.
But you ask,
"Don't Braille transcripts already meet that
Although a wonderfully creative tool, Braille is a
complex tactile code system not easily learned or quickly mastered.
Indeed, the National Federation of the Blind reports that only a minority of
those who might benefit from Braille can read it, and far fewer read it
with sufficient fluency to keep up with normal conversational speed.
A typical reading rate of 20 or so words per minute is best described as
Of particular concern is the fact that those who develop
visual impairments in later life find Braille difficult to master —
and many choose not to even make the attempt. Unfortunately, it is this
group which is most rapidly expanding due to our aging population.
Enter digital reporting
Professional E-Reporting's multi-channel audio record opens a "real-world"
window for all the blind / visually impaired.
In so many respects,
it provides a more comprehensive record than anything available from any
hard-copy version, because only when hearing the actual speakers' voices can
we discern the tone, speed, sarcasm, annoyance, or humor in otherwise static,
That said, we have a way to go in fully accommodating B/VI needs.
What if someone wants to review only the testimony of Witness X?
Must he wade through the entire proceeding? An audio index appended
to the recording would be helpful, indeed.
Remember that our digital systems let anyone type a quick time-reference
on a keyboard, and that exact point in the record begins playing
instantly. An audio index would cite to the times of major case
events, rather than the transcript pages, to let a listener quickly
"drill down" to specific areas of interest.
Another alternative: a simple "case-event index file" which someone
might then refer to in Braille hard copy as needed.
A conclusion: The delivery modes of our official audio records
can be refined, improved, and expanded upon. But even absent such
developments, E-Reporting already possesses what
the B/VI need.
Remarks contributed by Bill Wagner,
AAERT's former treasurer,
who is among those
experiencing macular degeneration.
Facts / Stats Sheet
Of the 1.3 million legally blind Americans, fewer than 10% read Braille.
Only 10% of blind children are now learning Braille,
down dramatically from prior decades.
We are rapidly becoming an obese society, resulting in an epidemic of
diabetes, which is significant because . . .
Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness among adults.
Over 4 million American adults have clinical diabetic retinopathy, and
1 in 8 of them have advanced, vision-impairing sequelae.
Nearly 2 million Americans have macular degeneration, a loss of central
vision which impairs reading / driving. This is an age-related risk
with genetic components, increasing as the population ages.
It is not, however, directly related to diabetes.
Sources / Resources:
• National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse (NDIC).
• Archives of Opthalmology, 4 Apr;122(4):552-63.
• National Federation of the Blind.
• National Eye Institute, The National Institutes of Health.
June 23 – 25
Informative, in-practice topics, useful for both reporters and transcribers,
will be on our agenda,
so start planning now to meet with us
at the Talking Stick Resort in
The Supreme Court
a step backward, a step forward . . .
• Earlier this year, and three quarters of a century after their
elegant D.C. building was dedicated, the justices voted to close the Court's
great bronze doors at the top of those familiar wide marble steps we see in
all the photographs. Public access is now funneled through a small
side entrance. Why? Security considerations.
The decision was not unanimous, and some justices lamented the negative
symbolism of locking the Court's "front door."
If that's the step backward, what's the step forward?
• Also of symbolic importance, yet surely of greater impact, the
justices this fall decided, at long last, to regularly release audio
recordings of the oral arguments they hear.
Of course, for many years the Court has electronically reported all its
"argument sessions," but until now these official audio records
have been only occasionally (and very selectively) released to the
A step yet to take: allowing cameras into the Court.
"The hourglass syndrome"
• You ask someone a question. He stares back blankly,
glassy-eyed and non-responsive. You ask again, but might as well
be talking to a wall.
— findings re annoyance, anger, and our work
• You request that someone do a very simple task, and ask him
oh-so-nicely, but he just stands there mute and does nothing. You ask
again, and he pretends you're not even there.
Get annoyed? Even angry?
Feel like giving him a good old-fashioned whump up the side of the head?
A University of Washington study has explored the surprising extent to which
we personalize equipment we work with a lot, such as computers. So,
when our requests are met with the infamous "endless hourglass" or a terse
error message that seems to imply, "Hey, stupid, you're the
one at fault here!" or programs inexplicably stop dead in their tracks,
we react like "he's" a rude co-worker exhibiting socially
unacceptable behavior — in short, we feel dis'd, and
annoyance can mushroom into irrational anger.
(Yes, people do smash their computers, sometimes.)
The study suggests amending "the hourglass experience"
to humanize interactions, such as "Sorry, Tom; I'm working on it,"
"This will be done in a moment, Mary" — or at least something
to make us feel we're not just being disrespectfully ignored.
The last issue of TCR posed a QuickQuiz question which, if
correctly answered by e-mail, would bring the winner a whimsical title,
"Widely Acknowledged Word-Whiz." The question:
— Rennae Phillips, Issaquah, Washington
Only one standard, non-regional English word requires
two apostrophes — and most authorities prefer THREE!
What is it?
Hint: it's nautical, but not naughty.
Rennae sleuthed out the answer which hits the mark:
the apostrophe-heavy phonetic rendering of its underlying word
forecastle — a superstructure toward the bow of a merchant ship
where the crew is housed.
Rennae is a new member, and also has an extensive background in Stenomask
reporting. She owns Catalina Court Reporting in
Keeping time, once an art of leisure,
now presses upon us as an immediate and
inescapable need . . .
A word called archaic by the dictionary but which expresses an
element of time so clearly, to me, is
anon. It came into use about 1000 C.E.,
and is Middle English,
anoon, from Old English
on ane, "in one (course)";
i.e., "straightaway." Why say, "straightaway" or "immediately,"
when you can simply say, "It will be ready anon"?
Several words relating to time come to us from Latin into Middle English,
quotidian or "daily," and
In both cases the Latin dies or "day" is modified.
Dial also comes from
dies by way of the Late Middle English
dialis, an instrument for telling time by the sun's shadow.
Another time-measuring word that came into use in the early 17th century
is hebdomadal, something that occurs every
week, or every seven days. The noun from which it is derived,
hebdomad, came into use nearly a hundred
years earlier. The Latin hebdomad comes from the Greek
hebdomas, "a week," from "seventh," hepta.
English adopted the Italian word tempo without
modification, coming from the Latin tempus, time.
The usage was extended to non-musical senses in 1898, per the
Online Etymological Dictionary.
Many have heard the expression "Time and tide wait for no man."
In original usage, time and
tide were synonymous. The word "tide,"
coined before 900 C.E., then meant time, from the Old English
tid, "time", "hour." This usage is heard seldom now except in
the liturgical calendar, Christmastide, Eastertide.
A modification of tide that came into use in
the 11th century means "events, news, information":
Good tidings to all!
Laurel H. Stoddard, CET
On The Record Reporting & Transcription, Inc. (Austin, Texas)
The value of precision
Click here for the quiz.
One reason lawyers and judges still use Latin words and phrases, at least
in certain situations, is because their precise meanings have been honed
during centuries of use, and need no further refining definitions.
This is also true in medicine. Consider, for example, the relative
diagnostic values of acute diverticulitis v.
really bad tummy-ache.
This QuickQuiz reveals how well you handle lawyerly expressions
— and at the same time, you can refresh your understanding of
their primary meanings.
For a convenient on-line law dictionary, including "law Latin," consult
The Free Legal Dictionary.
The ne plus ultra hard-copy authority, of course, remains Black's.
The short answer:
very small, indeed.
just how small can things get and still work?
Well, maybe not nano in the scientific sense of
10-9 or "one billionth,"
but certainly little.
Consider the actual shrinking of audio systems and equipment over time:
- 1940s — Vertical
reel-to-reel analog. Heavy, table-bound. External microphones /
cables. Manual notes (if any). Rare and very expensive.
- 1970s — Cassette
audio recorders, still analog. Reasonably portable. External
microphones / cables. Manual notes. Moderately expensive.
- Mid-1990s — Digital
recording. Light as a laptop; highly portable. External
microphones / cables. With add-on software, keyboarded notes are
time-linked to audio. Moderately expensive.
And now there comes a further reduction in size:
an even smaller, hand-held digital system, one WITHOUT external
microphones / cables, and WITHOUT a keyboard. Notes are pen-inscribed
on an 8 1/2 by 11-inch pad of special paper. And it's
surprisingly inexpensive, all things considered.
When you write with the electronic
pen, your notes are "point-of-entry"-linked to the audio
being recording at that instant. Later, just point the pen
to any note to replay the related audio.
The system is called Livescribe Echo.
Read on for more about how it works.
These are earbuds.
But they're not just earphones to play sound INTO your ears.
Rather, they also PICK UP sound AT your ears. They include small,
sensitive microphones which detect the same
sounds you're hearing and transmit them to the digital recorder built into
the pen itself. So, what is often termed "confidence monitoring" is
an automatic given:
what you hear is what you get.
And what kind of sound is this?
Put it this way: if you can hear and understand it, the digital
replay will sound exactly the same. It's intended to parallel
binaural, omni-directional human hearing.
Is the speaker to your left? The replay places her to the
left. There is NO "mono," NO "stereo" — everything is always
Whether this somewhat topsy-turvy approach presents more problems than it
solves remains to be seen — and heard.
But at least it does qualify on one level, as a dramatic diminution in
system size and complexity.
These remarks do not purport to be a
technical product review or a recommendation,
but are presented for
general interest purposes.
See the article by Gary Dell'Abate, "My New Pen Pal," in
Sound & Vision, November 2010, p. 24.
To examine a recording with interactive notes, go to the
public-access sample at
Note that this was recorded at a college lecture class — a
bit rowdy at first, but wait till they settle down!
you will need earphones to appreciate the binaural effect.
Board of Directors Updates
Buchanan "Buck" Ewing (Massachusetts)
has held positions in engineering, regional economic development, and
In 1981 he founded ComputerWriters, a firm specializing in writing
seminars for senior technical writers. In 1989 he founded Cambridge
Transcriptions, a regional leader in recording and transcription, and since
1995 a court-approved transcriber for the Commonwealth of
Massachusetts. In 2007 he founded Boston Court Reporters, the first
E-Reporting firm in Massachusetts.
Between 1993 and 1998, he served on the board of the International Society
of Communication Specialists (ISCS), and also chaired its Education
Buck is interested in best practices of reporting and transcription firms,
and in the application of current and emerging digital technologies at the
intersections of audio, text, video, and graphics.
He lives with his wife and son in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Richard Russell (Maryland)
is Operations Manager at Neal R. Gross & Co., a court reporting and
transcribing company located in Washington, D.C. He joined the firm in
1980 as an administrative assistant and part-time electronic court reporter,
and since that time has been involved in all aspects of the court reporting
He did his undergraduate studies at Colgate University and has an MBA from
George Washington University.
Rick has been a member of AAERT since 1995 and has been involved over the
years on various projects for the Government Relations Committee.
He and his family reside in Rockville, Maryland.
AAERT's Committees — a chance to participate!
To tweak a phrase, "AAERT . . . powered by Volunteers!"
True, some functions need professional outsourcing — website hosting,
for instance. But our Board is fully "in-sourced," as are our
operational / advisory committees and project working groups.
So, which activities pique your interest or mesh with your talents?
- Government Relations
- Conference 2011
- Membership Development
- Planning Task Force
- The Court Reporter
A nice thing about the committee system:
Participation need not be
hugely time-consuming, nor open-ended.
Most interactions with fellow-members are over the Internet, often
via Skype — so there's little or no expense involved.
Another nice thing:
A very good feeling of
accomplishment when your project is brought to fruition!
Your skills and expertise will always be needed!
For further information, contact
Newly Certified Reporters / Transcribers
at AAERT's examinations since the last issue of The Court Reporter:
Congratulations and our very best wishes to these candidates
Those who prefer not to appear in on-line
listings are shown with initials only:
who earned their initial or obtained upgraded certifications!
Aryeh J. Bak, CET**D
April Boyd, CER**D
Gayle Renee Brown, CERT*D
Michael Connolly, CER
Janet L. Cordia, CET**D
Michelle Costantino, CET**D
Rebekah Lynne Currier, CET**D
Karen Beth Ehatt, CET**D
Judith E. Fischer-Persson, CET**D
Mary Fluharty, CER**D
Judy B. Gonsalves, CERT*D
Christine Lynn House, CET**D
Jean Hudson, CET**D
Virginia S. Kindelspire, CET**D
Susan LaPooh, CET**D
Karen Morganelli, CET**D
Shawna Hansen Ortega, CET**D
Kristin V. Pejsa, CER**D
Peggy N. Pierce, CERT*D
Dorothy Smith Pouch, CET**D
Lee Michele Sapp, CET**D
Michelle Smiroldo, CET**D
Lisa Marie Smith, CET**D
Andrea Rennette Sohun, CET**D
Fernando Andres Subirats, CER**D
Claudia Terry, CET**D
Trevy Thomas, CERT*D
Anne Roberta VanDereedt, CET**D
Gervel A. Watts, CERT*D
— New York
— New York
— New York
— New York
— New York
— New Jersey
— New York
— New York
— Trinidad & Tobago
— New York
A general discussion of the program and a current schedule is at
Tina Schaeffer, CERT
A warm welcome to our new members
since the last issue of The Court Reporter
Members can go to the Association's on-line Directories by clicking
Those who prefer not to appear in on-line
listings are shown with initials only:
Karen D. Anderson, Arizona
Chrysta Bailey, Washington
Jennifer Lee Baskin, Florida
Alice H. Blackburn, Kentucky
Grace Blakeney, Florida
April Boyd, Florida
S.B., New York
M.C., North Dakota
Christine Cohen, Arizona
Paula Doreen Corbitt, Florida
Rebekah Lynne Currier, Texas
S.D., New York
Karen Beth Ehatt, Maryland
Candace Faulkner, Mississippi
Rhonda Fetzer, North Dakota
Ruth Fongemie, Florida
M.G., New York
Vanessa Renee Heiser, Florida
Novela Antonia Henderson, Florida
E.K., New York
Virginia S. Kindelspire, Missouri
Latara S. King, Florida
Mary Lou Leidig, Maryland
Karen Morganelli, Maryland
Gary Michael Piwonka, Texas
Stefanie Jodi Morley, Florida
Rennae Jeanne Phillips, Washington
Chris Pierucci, Illinois
Ariel Saldana, Florida
K.S., New York
M.S., New York
Rachel A. Schoth, Louisiana
Lisa Marie Smith, Maryland
Frances Ann Stearns, Arizona
Mie Sudo, Florida
Claudia Terry, California
Trevy Thomas, Virginia
Anne Roberta VanDereedt, Maryland
Wanda Voorhees, Florida
P.W., New York
Lanette Ann Young, Montana
A continuing reminder:
AAERT Membership Benefits
Review the details of these offers in the Members Area of our
Click on these company logos to see their products / services:
court reporting supplies and equipment
office supplies and equipment
professional liability and disability insurance
Contact the Editor: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Court Reporter is published by
The American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers, Inc.,
which reserves all rights, whether in electronic or print modalities. © 2010.
Janet Harris, CERT, CCVS, President
P.O. Box 9826 /
Wilmington, Delaware 19809-9826
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